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Word S10.6 – ‘Books We Love’ with Riyon Harding, Craig Santos Perez and NPR’s Andrew Limbong

On this episode of  KJZZ's Word podcast about literature, we feature the winner of the National Book Award for his collection of poetry. Plus, the holiday season means it’s time for NPR’s annual, “Books We Love" feature. Also, a children's author offers two new interactive titles.

Guest list

Tucson-based children's author Riyon Harding has released two books titled, “Sherman, a Tucson Tortoise” and “Sedona’s Quest,” which incorporate virtual reality elements that are accessed with a smartphone or tablet. The books were illustrated by Sandi Wright.

Harding has partnered with the Institute for Better Education Foundation (IBE) and will donate $3 for every book sold online to help the organization carry out its mission of supporting Arizona families who face financial hardships. She'll be at the Fourth Avenue street fair Dec. 8-10 on Fourth Avenue in downtown Tucson. Find her at Booth 101A. 

According to her author bio, "she's is an electrical engineer, artist, inventor and creator of Magic Portals. She has set about on a mission to put the power of education in the hands of children. Children can travel through the magic portals of her books to SEE and LEARN about that special location. Her first prototypes were The Adventures of Santa Fe Sam and Sedona's Search.

After a long stint in corporate America as director of innovation for companies such as IBM, Coca-Cola and TiVo she studied new technologies, including augmented and virtual reality. With the advent of web-based AR/VR she was able to launch Magic Portal Books and bring the world to children, wherever they happen to be.She hopes to one day create a nonprofit educational foundation, funded by the revenues of Magic Portal Books. The non-profit will be called "Re-write" and will be a combination home school/boarding school for high school students, who are not served by the traditional educational system." 


Regular listeners of this podcast know that I used to live on the island of Guam in the Western Pacific for about a decade.

In fact, this show originated from the public radio studios of 89.3 KPRG-FM Guam/Saipan.

Earlier this month, Guam was recognized for its contributions to literature at the National Book Awards, hosted by LeVar Burton with special guest, Oprah Winfrey.

One of the island’s Indigenous sons, writer and Prof. Craig Santos Perez, took home the National Book Award for his collection of poetry titled, “From Unincorporated Territory [åmot].” That last word means “medicine” in the language of the Chamoru (Chamorro) people, which  still lives today!

Perez reads “The Pacific Written Tradition” from his prize-winning poetry collection courtesy of PBS and the National Book Foundation. He also  appeared on Word in 2000.

"He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album  Undercurrent (Hawai’i Dub Machine, 2011), and author of three collections of poetry:  from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008),  from unincorporated territory [saina](Omnidawn, 2010), and  from unincorporated territory [guma'] (Omnidawn, 2014). He has been a finalist for the LA Times 2010 Book Prize for Poetry and the winner of the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry.

Perez is also director of the Creative Writing program and an assistant professor of English at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, where he teaches Pacific literature and creative writing. He maintains his own blog, and has blogged for  Harriet," according to his bio on the Poetry Foundation website.

NPR’s Andrew Limbong reports from the network’s Arts Desk, hosts the network’s “Book of the Day” podcast and is the lead curator for the annual “ Books We Love” interactive reading guide.

Limbong describes how he makes his selections for the podcast and the annual list of great reads as well as what literary genres make the cut.

As it's the Giving Season, please consider making a gift of support to KJZZ in amount that best fits your budget. Maybe that's $5, $10 or $20 per month.

Your gift goes a long way to sustain the news, information and entertainment like Word into the future.

We’re back with another episode on Dec. 12. Find our shows on multiple platforms including the NPR pod feed and now, YouTube.

Thanks so much for listening to KJZZ's Word podcast about literature!

Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.